New questions surface over Evansville's smoking ban and casinos - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

New questions surface over Evansville's smoking ban and casinos

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New questions have been raised Wednesday night about who regulates riverboat casinos in Indiana and how that could affect Evansville's smoking ban. 

City Council President John Friend spent the day in Indianapolis, where he met with Governor Mike Pence. But it's a conversation he had there with a legislative attorney that has him asking for legal advice.

"The term was used - repairment," Friend says.

That's a legal term that Friend says he's never heard before, but one he wants the city's attorneys to immediately start researching. He says, as he understands it, that means vessels like the Tropicana Riverboat in downtown Evansville are regulated by maritime law.

"That could be a technicality whereby we don't have authority to regulate that. In other words, it's not really part of the city," Friend says.

Meaning, the smoking ban that was recently overturned by the state Supreme Court because it exempted the Tropicana Casino should not have applied to the casino anyway.  

Friend believes if that's the case, removing that clause from the original smoking ordinance could put the ban back into effect.

"The ordinance should have been simple, 'No smoking - period' by any establishment in the City of Evansville," Friend tells 14 News.

Friend says if repairment does apply, it very well could be a simple solution to a very complicated issue.

"We're going to rely upon the legal community to help us out through all of this," Friend says.

He says another solution he presented to the governor Wednesday is for the state to make all riverboat casinos either smoking or non-smoking and then leave it up to cities to decide what to do about bars and taverns.  

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